Article from the Columbia Flier

Jessica and Jewel

(Enlarge) Jewel Jackson, left, and Jessica Pearsall finish the swim portion of the Celebration Sprint Triathlon together. Jackson was contemplating dropping out of the swim when Pearsall came along to encourage her. (Photo courtesy of

Jessica Pearsall kept telling herself things were going to be different.

The 48-year-old Ellicott City resident, participating in the Celebration Sprint Triathlon in late June, was determined to overcome the swimming difficulties that had hindered her in two previous races. At her first triathlon, the AFLAC Iron Girl Columbia last fall, she pulled up at the second buoy before struggling to shore and at the Columbia Triathlon, in May, problems with her wet suit forced her to drop out.

But from the moment she got in the water and started swimming in the Sprint race, Pearsall was determined to put those shortcomings in the past.

“I’m usually not a very competitive person, but I really did want to do well and kind of get back on the horse after the Columbia Triathlon,” she said. “I had trained really hard and I felt great. I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just out there swimming as hard as I could.”

However, just as she had found a rhythm, Pearsall saw something out of the corner of her eye. There, clinging to the side of a canoe, was 40-year-old Jewel Jackson contemplating dropping out of the race.

“I don’t know how I saw her — I was so focused — maybe it was her yellow cap, but I knew right away what I had to do,” Pearsall said. “I’d never met Jewel before, but I knew what she was going through. I think she was almost at the exact same point where I was when I got out of the water during the Columbia Triathlon.”

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